Life’s a Gift

Life’s a Gift

Whatever challenges we all face, life is a gift that we can celebrate with wonderful story.

My brilliant friend, multi award winning children’s author Sally Fussell is an inspiration to writers, young people and families. Her new book, ‘Sad the dog’ offers comfort and ultimately joy, to kids and families as she Writes Through the Tough Stuff.

Here’s what Sandy says about her new picture book:-

I’ve heard it said many times, that a true writer never gives up. No matter how hard it is, they persevere and push through. They keep going.

I’m a true writer – heart and soul – I’ve never doubted that, but not so long ago I almost gave up. The release of Sad, the Dog is my phoenix moment and if I can be indulged a metaphor, I feel reborn from the ashes of the last five years of my life.

In days long gone now, I used to describe myself as the Cinderella author, convinced someone had waved a magic wand over me. My first two books won major awards. I had a steady stream of festival invitations. I could easily write two books a year and Walker Books Australia kept publishing them.
My bio contained a line saying my greatest fear was I would turn back into a pumpkin in the middle of a school visit. Prophetic words. The pumpkin years came although not in any way I could’ve imagined.

In 2010 I contracted bacterial meningitis. The life-threatening one. I survived to spiral into four months of unexplained fatigue, barely able to lift a pencil, and eventually diagnosed as orthostatic hypertension. I was luckier than the Yellow Wiggle. I recovered and kept writing. I had a series to spin.

Except my life collapsed again. #2 son developed nausea, ultimately every waking hour – followed by abdominal pain and a raft of unexplained symptoms. After four struggling years, I decided to end the Samurai Kids series with book 8. I couldn’t find the time to write another one. But I kept writing something. A little less. A little later at night.

A small window of blue sky opened and my son found some relief with a special diet. Just in time for me to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the rare, nasty Hurthle cell kind. On the plus side I had three days of isolation while I was radioactive – the closest I’ll ever get to a writing retreat. I picked up an old manuscript and kept writing.

I survived again as my son’s diet failed spectacularly and the fifth year ended with three months of constant nausea and pain for him. Finally, a Christmas neuropathic medication miracle occurred. But there were ongoing complications and home schooling began. I kept writing. A lot less. A lot later at night.

Eventually the manuscript was finished. It was terrible, twice over. It was two terrible stories wrapped around each other. I panicked, and for the first time, I thought of giving up. I had tried so hard – and failed. But I’m a true writer – I pushed through until I had three good chapters of something new, proving to myself I could still write.

Through all those times, the worst of which are thankfully over, Sad, The Dog inched along. An email from my wonderful ever-encouraging editor, here. A changed line, there. A new page spread. Finally, the first glimpse of Sad’s cheeky face.

Sad the Dog is a story full of hope – for friendship and family – as Sad stops being Sad and becomes Lucky. It’s symbolic for me. My friends stood by me, my family pulled through the pumpkin years and I’ve been twice lucky.

A touching look into the life of an unloved pet and the heart-warming journey towards finding your true home.

Sad, The Dog – Tour Schedule

by Sandy Fussell and illustrated by Tull Suwannakit.

Thursday 1st October, Kids’ Book Review
Friday 2nd October, Kirsty Eager’s Blog
Saturday 3rd October, Writing for Children
Sunday 4th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog
Monday 5th October, Susanne Gervay’s Blog
Tuesday 6th October, Boomerang Books Blog
Wednesday 7th October, The Book Chook
Thursday 8th October, Creative Kids Tales
Friday 9th October, DeeScribe Writing Blog
Saturday 10th October, Reading Upside Down
Sunday 11th October, Sandy Fussell’s Blog

Sad the dog_pages 2

I'm a writer committed to kids in particular. Adults are good too. Want to bring hope through story to my readers. Awarded an Order of Australia, Lady Cutler Award and a Lifetime International Award for Literacy for my body of work, spreading literacy is really important. I'm head of SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand, patron of Monkey Baa Theatre, Ambassador for the Premier's Reading Challenge, Writer Ambassador for Room to Read ... among other roles. I also love heritage and adapting to enhance the lives of people today, which is why I restored The Hughenden Hotel 1870s and The Residences Centennial Park - the only homes in the parklands which are open now for accommodation, events and lots of nature.


  1. Jin Wang 2 years ago

    Susanne, thanks for sharing this.

    Sandy, this post’s title says it all. Your positivity always shines through. Can’t wait to read Sad, The Dog with my daughter.

  2. Sally Hall 2 years ago

    Sandy, I love that you could find a positive in being radioactive with your three day ‘writing retreat’. That seriously makes me smile!

  3. Corinne Fenton 2 years ago

    Spoken from the heart. Congratulations on all levels Sandy and thank you for posting this Susanne. Love to you both. xx

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